Minors Can Be Charged with a Crime Simply for Having Alcohol in Their Vehicles in California

Minors Can Be Charged with a Crime Simply for Having Alcohol in Their Vehicles in CaliforniaIf you’re under 21, you probably already know that it’s illegal for you to drink alcohol and that doing so while behind the wheel is a major infraction. What you might not know, though, is that unless you’re transporting it for a specific purpose, California law forbids you from even having alcohol in your car if you’re under 21 – even if you’re sober and the containers are sealed.

Underage drinking and drinking and driving are serious offenses in California, to the point where carrying alcohol in your car without a justifiable reason can land you in jail and have your license suspended. For more information about this accusation and how to counter it, keep reading. Then contact a DUI attorney by reaching out to Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088.

What is a charge for minor transporting alcohol?

Anyone under the age of 21 who operates a motor vehicle that contains an alcoholic beverage or who has an alcoholic beverage while a passenger in a motor vehicle is breaking the law, according to the California Vehicle Code. Contrary to California’s open container regulations, possession of alcohol in a vehicle or on one’s person is a criminal regardless of whether the container is open or sealed.

The prosecution has several elements to prove for this charge

The prosecution must demonstrate, in order to establish guilt on this offense, that you either deliberately operated a vehicle while intoxicated or traveled in a vehicle as a passenger while intoxicated. The key to this law is that you must be aware that you are in possession of alcohol.

A defense to a charge of minor transporting alcohol could be that you were uninformed that your vehicle contained alcohol when you were driving it (for instance, if you were driving your parents’ car and were unaware that there was wine in the trunk).

Potential consequences for a conviction

The consequences for this offense are quite severe. It is a misdemeanor offense that carries a maximum 6-month county jail sentence and a maximum $1,000 fine. Additionally, your license might be suspended for up to a year and your car could be confiscated for up to 30 days.

Given that the prosecution only needs to show that you had the alcohol in your possession or that you transported it in a vehicle, these penalties are especially severe. Due to the serious repercussions of this crime, it is crucial that you speak with a skilled DUI attorney as soon as you are detained.

There are exceptions to the law

Despite the fact that this legislation appears to be stringent, there are a few caveats that can be utilized to disprove a charge of Minor Transporting Alcohol. It is occasionally legal for a minor to transport or possess alcohol in a moving vehicle.

You may be able to have the charge of Minor Transporting Alcohol dismissed if you can demonstrate any of the following:

  • You are transporting alcohol in the company of a parent, responsible adult relative, or other adult designated by your parent or legal guardian;
  • You are adhering to the guidance of a parent, legal guardian, responsible adult relative, or other adult about the disposal of the alcohol;
  • You are operating the car while working for a company that holds a permit to sell alcoholic beverages.

These circumstances may arise in a variety of ways, such as when your father asks you to take your grandmother to the shop so she may buy a bottle of alcohol or when your boss asks you to deliver a case of beer from the restaurant where you work to a party venue off-site. If you fit one of these exceptions, speak with a knowledgeable DUI attorney right away to learn more about your options for fighting these accusations.

Know that there is assistance available if you have been accused of transporting alcohol or having alcohol in a vehicle when underage. Call the Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 or send an email to dchambers@clfca.com right away. We will do everything in our power to uphold your legal rights and will begin the process with a free legal consultation.

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